Calcium is a mineral that is important for building strong bones and teeth. Almost all of the calcium we use in our bodies is for building strong bones. A very small amount is needed to help our heart, nerves and muscles work.

If we do not get enough calcium every day from the foods we eat, it is taken out of our bones. After many years of not getting enough calcium, our bones become very weak and brittle. Osteoporosis is the name of this disease. It can cause bones to break very easily and the jaw bone to shrink so teeth are lost. It can lead to curvature of the spine.

Older women are especially at risk for osteoporosis. By getting enough calcium from the food we eat all through our life, we can make sure our bones and teeth stay healthy.

One of the best sources of calcium is milk, and foods made from milk, like yogurt and pudding. Leafy green vegetables, tofu, and canned fish with bones are also good sources. Other foods, such as some brands of orange juice, have added calcium. We can read food labels to find how much calcium is in the foods we eat.

To find out how much calcium you need, "Ask the Nutritionist".

To test what you know about calcium, take the Quiz on Calcium.

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